Victor Robles homers in return to lineup as Nats go up 3-0 in NLCS

WASHINGTON -- Victor Robles made an immediate impact in his return to the Nationals' lineup.

After missing five games with a hamstring injury, Robles homered, singled and scored twice Monday night as his team took a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series against St. Louis.

"A lot of times when you have an injury like I have, it's usually a couple of months to come back from, and I was able to turn around and come back in a little over a week and a half, so I thank [God] for the opportunity and enjoy this moment with the crowd," Robles said after the game.

The 22-year-old made manager Dave Martinez look like a genius for plugging him right back into center field despite Michael A. Taylor's homer in Game 2.

It wasn't a debate for Martinez, who said Sunday that Robles would "get a chance to play" over Taylor when 100% healthy. Robles took swings in the batting cage and made it an easy decision.

His swings against Cardinals pitching looked even better. Robles, batting eighth, lined a base hit up the middle off starter Jack Flaherty in the third inning and crushed reliever John Brebbia's 2-1 fastball over the fence in right-center in the sixth. When crossing home plate, Robles tipped his helmet to his mother, who had never seen him play in the states before Monday.

"You know I felt excited, I felt my mom's strength there, you know I was fortunate enough to hit a home run in her presence, so I wanted to make sure I recognized that and show her some love," Robles said of the gesture.

Robles finished the game 2-for-4. He hit .255 with 17 home runs, 65 RBIs and 28 stolen bases during his first full season in the majors. He had last played in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cardinals made only one lineup change after putting up just one run on four hits in the first two games. Jose Martinez started in right field, with Tommy Edman shifting to third base in place of Matt Carpenter.

Martinez singled to start the seventh inning and later scored on a throwing error by Nationals left fielder Juan Soto. It was St. Louis' only run on the night in an 8-1 loss.

"We haven't been able to play our brand of baseball in full," manager Mike Shildt said. "We haven't been able to get in rhythm or sync, but we still have more baseball to play."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.